Cabanatuan mayor accused of harassing TV crew

Posted at 05/06/2013 11:33 PM

MANILA - The reelectionist mayor of Cabanatuan City and his armed bodyguards allegedly harassed a local TV journalist Saturday, a media organization said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a press statement Monday, said local station TV 48 cameraman Erme Buendia and his brother Eduardo were taking a video footage of Mayor Julius Caesar Vergara in Barangay San Isidro when the latter approached their vehicle and forced him and his brother out of it.

Quoting a police complaint filed by Buendia, the NUJP said Buendia first saw the mayor jogging, with several armed men and a police car with body number 427 following him along the Nueva Ecija-Aurora Road.

It added that the Buendias stopped by the roadside to get a better angle when Vergara banged the door of the van.

The mayor ordered Buendia and his brother to get out of the van and demanded them to delete the footage, the NUJP said.

The brothers locked their station van, but Vergara's bodyguards allegedly forced their way into the vehicle.

"Two policemen, PO1 Isaias Feliciano and PO1 Germino Geminez, reportedly grabbed Erme's bag and seized the camera upon the mayor's instruction," the NUJP added.

The mayor's men later returned Buendia's bag, but not the TV camera, the media group said.

According to the NUJP, Vergara is seeking re-election in the upcoming midterm elections.

Station TV48 is allegedly owned by Anthony Umali, Vergara's rival for the mayoralty position.

Vergara's family also operates local radio and television stations in the city.

The Cabanatuan mayor has yet to issue a statement on the incident, as of posting.